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5 Indispensable Qualities of a Great Leader

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5 Indispensable Qualities of a Great Leader

You’ve seen them. Effectively directing the flow of a group activity. All eyes eagerly upon them for guidance and inspiration as they speak or move or…heck, just stand there. Something about their energy is magnetic. So much so, people feel compelled to follow. And this is in preschool.

Some people were born leaders. It’s a fact. No one taught that two-year-old to be the ambassador of the crayons. And yet she takes it upon herself to be just that. Divvying out the amounts she deems appropriate to her fellow toddlers. The good leader will be fair. The bad leader will give the broken ones to the boy who keeps crying for his mother.

Today’s focus is on the good leader, the benefits and how anyone can be one, whether naturally appointed or not. Solid leadership has far reaching effects for both the leader and everyone they come in contact with. Good leaders are essential to the success of most everything  as they not only make for productive and loyal employees, but they also contribute to happy households, healthy friendship circles and enhance truly any social human experience from the PTA to the President.

The truth is this. People who always manage to be in charge in whatever situation do possess some distinctive inherent leadership qualities. And while not everyone may have been born with the scepter to rule the masses, these known characteristics of a leader are available to anyone with the desire to learn.

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Confidence Not Conceit

how to become a better leader

    Leaders, real leaders, don’t think they can do it. They know they can. People who tend to make their way to the top have little to no self-doubt. They are confident in their ability, believe they have something to offer and generally feel they can do a better job than the next guy. This is the healthy confidence a leader possesses.

    Leadership is a position of power, however, so there is always a danger of it going to one’s head. This could be the difference between a good and not so great leader. A good leader knows they are not perfect, which is part and parcel to their other good leadership characteristics. In the workplace, you can bet employees notice confidence levels when they must answer to someone  on a daily basis. If a leader doesn’t exude it, he surely will begin to lose his loyal following. On the flip side, a leader with an overly-inflated ego and an inability to admit fault could encourage harbored resentment and even eventual mutiny.

    If you’re looking to learn how to become a better leader, this is perhaps going to be the most important thing you need to keep in mind.

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    Know Your People/Know Yourself

    No, not just their names and birth dates. Leaders, good leaders, understand who they are leading. What are they about, what are their skills, what are their strong points, what are their goals and needs? In a family, a father knows his kids and treats them as individuals, knowing instinctively how they best fit in and contribute to the family.

    At work, people in leadership roles must pay attention to personalities and strengths and listen to people’s needs and goals. Then they can utilize them in a way that both the employees and the company wins. This also requires the leader take personal inventory to identify their own weaknesses and shortcomings and then draw on the strengths of others by the art of delegating.  A good leader, with good leadership skills, knows how to delegate effectively like this, based on his understanding of himself and his people.

    Communication is Key

    leadership qualities

      Johnny tells Brandy she’s a great skateboarder but not to ride on the asphalt because she could fall since she isn’t that experienced. Brandy nods her head, bats her eyes (hee hee) and happily rides it somewhere else. Johnny, the leader of the group, communicated to his friend why she shouldn’t do something. Instead of getting annoyed, she appreciated it.

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      This is the demeanor of a good leader. Clear communication is essential. A good leader not only reprimands but gives positive, constructive feedback. Everyone needs to hear they did a good job on something. There is no better motivation to keep up the good work. Great leaders have this figured out. In addition, they should in turn encourage honest, non-consequential feedback from their employees.  Leaders may have to train themselves to not get defensive and take it personally — to look at negative feedback as a way to not only self-improve but set an example of how to handle constructive criticism like a boss (no pun intended of course).

      Take the Blame

      As the leader, you’re running the ship. So when something goes wrong, blame yourself. Everyone is looking to you and there is power in taking responsibility. Such a display of accountability will speak volumes and set the perfect example for others to do the same should things go awry.  It’s an excellent show of a leader’s  trustworthiness and integrity. From there, solutions can be found and prevention can be put in place. Taking the blame.  It’s very empowering.

      Maintain a Sense of Humor

      Maintain a Sense of Humor

        It’s just good form. Far too much can go wrong in life – in relationships, at home, at work. Without humor, people could be crying 24/7. But if those in charge can laugh about most things, what a relief for the rest of the crew. There is probably no better way for a leader to create a bond with those reporting to them than to maintain a sense of humor.

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        It dispels tensions, makes things comfortable and opens up lines of communication. It increases staff morale which of course increases productivity in the workplace. Plus, it’s just fun. And who doesn’t want to have fun? Leaders with senses of humor typically develop devout followings because even in the face of crisis, they can count on their leader to diffuse the situation with a good laugh.

        When it comes to developing good leadership qualities, most people hardly focus on this quality. However, it’s certainly a very important one and hence something you must work on.

        You Can Do It

        Bottom line is anyone can be a leader. Just believe you can be without a doubt, understand your people, talk to them about what’s good and bad, teach them accountability by example and be willing to laugh it off if occasionally  they (or you) screw up. Any questions?

        Featured photo credit: Nurturing leadership in the outsourcing industry via wns.com

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        Last Updated on November 18, 2021

        10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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        10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

        We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

        A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

        So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

        • honest
        • reliable
        • competent
        • kind and compassionate
        • capable of taking the blame
        • able to persevere
        • modest and humble
        • pacific and can control anger.

        The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

        1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

        All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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        But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

        2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

        How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

        I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

        “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

        Abigail Van Buren

        3. How does this person take the blame?

        Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

        4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

        You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

        5. Read their emails.

        Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

        • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
        • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
        • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
        • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
        • Too many question marks can show anger
        • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

        6. Watch out for the show offs.

        Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

        7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

        A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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        Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

        8. Their empathy score is high.

        Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

        People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

        9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

        We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

        “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

        Stendhal

         10. Avoid toxic people.

        These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

        • Envy or jealousy
        • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
        • Complaining about their own lack of success
        • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
        • Obsession with themselves and their problems

        Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

        Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

        Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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